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16.04.2008

UNHCR concerned over situation in the Crimea

   

Legal Advisers to the UN Human Rights Commissioner’s Mission in Ukraine Dmytro Plechko and Oksana Bavych have expressed strong concern over recent events in the Crimea, in particular the attacks on Muslim cemeteries and appearance of graffiti with messages offensive to the Crimean Tatars.

The Mejilis of the Crimean Tatar people report that the meeting between the UNHCR representatives and the Deputy Head of the Mejilis Refat Chubarov took place on Monday.

“Representatives of the UNHCR expressed strong concern over recent events in the Crimea, and how these are presented in a number of Crimean and nationwide media outlets”, the Mejilis states.

Mr Plechko said that he had met with representatives of the Crimean police who do not exclude the possibility that certain things were being done deliberately to provoke a worsening in the socio-political situation in the Crimea (possibility coming up to Remembrance Day for the Victims of the Deportation on 18 May.

During the meeting, issues were discussed related to a whole range of problems which Crimean Tatars returning to their homeland confront. Mr Chubarov mentioned, in particular, problems for Crimean Tatars returning with receiving Ukrainian citizenship, with registration, crossing Ukraine’s borders, receiving compensation for their travel and transportation expenses.

Mr Plechko spoke of a draft law drawn up by the State Committee on Nationalities and Religious Matters “On reinstating the rights of individuals deported on ethnic grounds”. Mr Chubarov considered this to be an emasculated version of the Law of the same name passed in June 2004 by the Verkhovna Rada, but vetoed by President Kuchma. Mr Plechko asked that the Mejilis’ proposals and comments on the new draft law also be sent to the UNHCR.

The events of the last two months have been reported here:

An attack was made on the central Muslim cemetery of the Nizhnyohirske settlement during the night between 9-10 February. More than 220 gravestones were totally destroyed, and the fence around the cemetery was partially ruined.  The perpetrators of this act killed the dog guarding the cemetery

Another Muslim cemetery in the Crimea, this time in the settlement of Chistenke near Simferopol, was desecrated in the morning of Friday 11 April

As well as destroying 39 gravestones, the attackers also used red paint on the fence, daubing the words “Tatars out of the Crimea”, with a hangman’s noose.

At the beginning of April xenophobic graffiti against the Crimean Tatars appeared in Simferopol and Belogorsk.

The Acting Head of the Crimean Central Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Mykola Illichov has issued an order to place all Muslim cemeteries in the Crimea under guard.

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